Guest Authors

Grisham Trial in Texas: The Party’s Over

19 November 2013
by Barbara Lawrence, courtroom eyewitness

This time it’s a beautiful sunny day, mild and temperate, despite being mid-November in Texas. The trees have turned luscious red, gold and tangerine colors throughout, and a light wind ruffles their leaves.

The parkway has an empty canopy with no visible Grisham supporters.  The tenor of this trial is different than his first trial.

Master Sergeant CJ Grisham has none of the bravado he exhibited before. The circus atmosphere is gone. No glad-handing or working the crowd. The crowd has shrunk visibly.  Instead of the 25 supporters before, I counted only eight.

Grisham seems serious and preoccupied. He stares off into space often, as if troubled by something. Perhaps something other than the trial.

His wife Emily rubs her head and cheek often during the trial. Only their son Chris is present. I miss Hannah, their cute young daughter.

The Lady in Black sits next to me during voir dire. Her dark brown hair is slightly curled, her make-up is spare and her expression is serious and pensive. She appears to be middle-aged but carries more years of worry or concern. She wears her customary black slacks and a black shawl. I tell her people are curious to know who she is. “I’m just here to watch to watch the trial” she replies tersely in a tone that doesn’t invite further conversation. I respectfully leave her alone.

Grisham has been busy since the last trial. In late October he attended an open carry rally where two men were arrested for open carrying revolvers. They were first asked to leave and refused. As they were being led away Grisham can be seen shouting into the DPS officers faces, and then sitting in front of their patrol car, blocking their way.  He was not arrested and the patrol car went around him.

Yesterday he posted a request for yet more money to fund his current trial and his civil suit against Temple Police Department. But wasn’t the National Association For Legal Gun Defense supposed to pay for that?  They pledged “up to $1,000,000” for both at one time. And Grisham collected $51,798 on Indiegogo. Shouldn’t that be enough?  The million-dollar pledge that garnered so much ink appeared to be a publicity stunt.

Where did the fifty grand go?  Grisham posted that he would be at the prestigious Wanenmacher Gun Show in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Past guests have included Wayne LaPierre and “Dutch” Van Kirk, the navigator of the Enola Gay. The Grisham family stayed at the luxurious Cedar Rock Inn, for which a family of five would cost a minimum of $310.00 a night. I asked Emily Grisham how they could afford this on “a soldier’s paycheck” and she replied, “None of your business.”

I asked what happened to the $51,798 and Emily replied that it was spent on the first trial and the rest donated. Then I asked why they would donate “the rest” knowing they had a second trial to pay to which Emily replied, “That’s none of your business.”

I asked why Larry Keilberg wouldn’t pay for the critical witness trial transcripts.  Emily replied, “Why don’t you go ask him?”

Both Grishams seemed irritated and discouraged, but it could be they just perceive me as “The Enemy”.  I’m surprised they talk to me at all.

The jury that was chosen is three men and three women: two black men, two white women, one white man, and one Hispanic woman.

Gone are the dress blues. Grisham is in ACUs, the camouflage uniform.

When the jury is shown the dashcam video, he doesn’t show nearly the interest as he did in the first trial.  At one point he mouths his words on the video and later shakes his head.

The jury watches the video intently except for one woman. She watches Grisham closely almost the entire time. Jurors occasionally take notes. Emily rubs her forehead and looks at the floor.

Blue Rannefeld, Grisham’s attorney, insists on the entire video being played so that the jury can see how few houses are on the route to the police station. Judge Neel Richardson finally interrupts, “Gentlemen, what are we doing here? Is this relevant?” Rannefeld finally shuts off the video.

The prosecutor, John Gaunt, Jr. will do a smooth, progressive line of questioning of prime witness Sgt. Steve Ermis, and Blue Rannefeld, much more organized and sure of himself, will still tend to be tedious and repetitive. That’s a story for tomorrow.

But it’s clear that the party’s over.

Please See: "The Trial That Won't Go Away"

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